Before and After

Before
Before

After a month and a half of painting and cleaning, the rental property we purchased is ready. I’m so TIRED!! I’m also feeling happy that I met my deadline, came in under budget and the house looks good.

After
After
Back of house
Back of house

The inside painting ended up being a little more complicated than I imagined. Most of the walls and ceiling are wallpapered under existing paint. That meant that all the walls needed to be primed before two coats of paint. The trim and windows also required a primer coat. I tape all of my edges when I paint, but soon learned that when I removed the tape it pulled off old paint and wallpaper. Then there were the walls with wallpaper that needed to be removed.

Before dining room.
Before dining room.
After dining room
After dining room
During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.
During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.
Before dining room
Before dining room
Dining room after
After dining room

It was a steep learning curve aided by the sage advice from Facebook friends who suffered before me. I hired a painter friend to come on the weekends to handle the more difficult spackling work, wallpaper removal, ladder work in the hall and some of the rooms. His professionalism, knowledge and tricks were invaluable. I learned a lot from him and he did a great job.

Before hallway
Before hallway
After hallway
After hallway
After hallway
After hallway

I invited the former owners over to see the changes I made and they liked them. They even changed the heater filter for me while they were there.

Before kitchen
Before kitchen
After kitchen
After kitchen

Andreas and I had concerns that finding renters would be difficult because the University has been uncertain about opening in the fall. I’m happy to report that we found three, none are students, I know their families and I’ve known all of them for over a decade. Today I collected leases and handed out keys. The first to spend the night is a pet rabbit named Benny. It felt really good to turn over the house to others and know that I can work in my studio again tomorrow.

Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha
Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha

While I’ve been working at the house Andreas was offered a summer research job with a colleague in Copenhagen. We are hoping to travel there this winter so they can also work in person, but the timing is unknown because of America’s handling or mis-handling of the pandemic.

Before yeast cake
Before yeast cake
After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.
After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.

We are still quarantining here, but not as strictly. I’ve expanded my shopping to include the hardware and paint store and once in a while we find ourselves social distancing with Christina and George in the house if the weather is too hot. The University decided to have classes online in the fall which makes me happy and Andreas sad. He was really looking forward to teaching an undergraduate class in person.

Before home haircut.
Before home haircut.
After home haircut.
After home haircut. Andreas won’t let me cut his hair lately. He’s trying to bring back the feathered mullet.

Daily gardening has stopped because of the heat and mosquitoes, but the tomato plants are still being well cared for. A few are as tall as me and are producing fruit. The smaller plants at the new property are doing well too.

The beginning of our future gardens. We need rain.
The beginning of our future vegetable garden. We need rain.

Yesterday was my birthday and we enjoyed a delicious socially-distanced dinner at Christina and George’s place. It’s strange to sit down to dinner, not across the table, but across the room from each other and to wear masks in passing.

My birthday cakes. on the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That's a German one. I'm not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina's cake was her mother's recipe.
My birthday cakes. On the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That’s a German one, I’m not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina’s cake was her mother’s recipe.
Distance dining. Fantastic dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons
Distance dining. Fantastic birthday dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons

Life is good here. We hope you are doing well too. Please wear your mask.

 

Re-entry

Hello from America. We’ve had eleven days to re-adjust, re-decorate and re-dedicate ourselves to our old lives.

Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.
Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.

On the flight home we shared our row with a friar or monk (whatever you call the dudes in the long brown robes with rope belts) a talker, originally from South Jersey. He’s stationed in Jericho now and was coming home for a holiday at the shore. I caught up on a few movies that I hadn’t seen while we were in Germany on the plane. When we landed in Philadelphia, a half hour late, we were told that the computers in customs were down. Two hours later we happily greeted Andreas’ sister who patiently waited three hours to pick us up.

My in-laws watched our house for us using our place as a base while they build a new home. So, not only was the house clean and ready to live in when we arrived, but we had groceries and good company.

The first things we noticed in Delaware were the sounds of insects at night and the blood thirsty mosquitoes. Even though it’s hot we open the windows to hear the insects through the night and the birds in the morning. In Bremerhaven we heard drunks, sirens and seagulls. I’ll miss the seagulls.

Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our local farmer's market isn't as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I'd like and be understood so I'm happy. Andreas doesn't want to go yet. He misses the German market.
Our local farmer’s market isn’t as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I’d like and be understood so I’m happy. Andreas doesn’t want to go yet. He misses the German market.

During our first couple of days back we manically cleaned, re-organized and unpacked. Andreas spent three days in the garden untangling and cutting back a years’ worth of overgrowth.

This area was overgrown, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
This area was a mini jungle, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He also spent some time editing and cleaning his office at work which hasn’t changed much in twenty years. Even though we felt tired and jet lagged, the excitement of being back and the desire to do the things we dreamed about in Germany overcame it.

No wheels for me this week. I hope it's fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
No wheels for me this week. I hope it’s fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My car wasn’t running well after sitting for a year, so I had it towed to the mechanics. Even though I’m home I haven’t had a car to run errands. That’s frustrating, but I think it helped me to stay focused on submitting a grant proposal before it’s deadline, and to unpack the studio prepare it for commissions and classes.

The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had our kitchen remodeled when we were overseas. It turned out great and it’s been fun to unpack and thin out our combined kitchen utensils and gadgets. It’s so much brighter than the old kitchen!

The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Oh, and I turned 50 a few days ago and had an awesome dinner out with a few friends. It was wonderful to understand the conversations at the table, to understand the waitress and to be able to read everything on the menu. Also, super great to see my friends. I kept staring at my friend Sherri. I couldn’t believe she was actually sitting there in person, not just a video on the phone!

This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?
This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?

I miss our apartment in Germany a little bit because it became so familiar. All in all, though I am very happy to be HOME!

 

85 Years Strong

Birthday sweet bread baked by Christa
Birthday sweet bread baked by Christa

Happy 85th Birthday to Andreas’ father (Vati) Lothar! We recently spent a wonderful weekend in Neustadt in Holstein by the Baltic Sea to visit Andreas’ parents and celebrate this big birthday.

Neustadt Harbor at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Neustadt Harbor at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Lothar was born in 1934 six weeks premature. He made it through some bad times during and after WWII in what is now north western Poland. At age 20 he was ready to work on electric utility grids in Venuezuela, but his father refused to sign the required permission as he was not yet 21. Two years later he joined the newly formed German Air Force instead where he served until his retirement some 30 years later. When Andreas was born, the young family was stationed in Leck, Nordfriesland near the Danish border. He, his wife Christa, and three children moved a few times with the Air Force and have been on a lot of vacations in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and later as retirees America.

Celebrating with champagne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Celebrating with champagne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

This past weekend we had a relaxing time walking along Neustadt Harbor, some wonderful meals and lots of long conversations piecing together the past.

There are a lot of swans in Neustadt. I love them. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
There are a lot of swans in Neustadt. I love them. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa helping me collect beach glass. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa helping me collect beach glass. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The Muenchow’s longtime neighbor and friend Hannelore joined us for coffee and marzipan birthday cake on Saturday. She has known Andreas since he was a little boy in Lederhosen living in Leck, Nordfriesland.

Hannelore and Lothar. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hannelore and Lothar. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in or near Lubeck you must have Marzipan. This is Lothar's delicious birthday cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in or near Lubeck you must have Marzipan. This is Lothar’s delicious birthday cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa enjoying catching up with Hannelore. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa enjoying catching up with Hannelore. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Before we left on Sunday, we found old family slides and the slide projector to look at some images that haven’t been seen in twenty years. We are bringing a few home to the States to digitize and print.

Christa introducing us to the guests at their engagement party May 7th 1960. Nagewitz and Muenchow family. Christa is in the middle wearing the dress with the bow and Lothar is behind her in a dark suit with dark hair. Christa is commenting on the fact that she is now older than the grandparents sitting in the front.Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa introducing us to the guests at their engagement party May 7th 1960. Nagewitz and Muenchow family. Christa is in the middle wearing the dress with the bow and Lothar is behind her in a dark suit with dark hair. Christa is commenting on the fact that she is now older than the grandparents sitting in the front.Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cuties at the kids table From left to right: Burkhard, Andreas, cousin Petra and baby Christina. Photo taken on Wikinger Str. in Leck, Germany early 1965. This photo taken from the slide projected on the wall.
Cuties at the kids table From left to right: Burkhard, Andreas, cousin Petra and baby Christina. Photo taken on Wikinger Str. in Leck, Germany early 1965. This photo taken from the slide projected on the wall.
Andreas points to a photo of himself and a neighbor taken in Leck in 1962.
Andreas points to a photo of himself and a neighbor taken in Leck in 1962.

When I wished Lothar a happy birthday, I said here’s to eighty-five more! He said, “Oh no, only wish for five more at a time.” So, here’s to five more. In guter Gesundheit!

Selfie with the birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie with the birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum